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Naperville parenting plan attorneysIf you are a parent who is considering a divorce, there is a good chance that you probably worried about how your divorce will affect your children. While you most likely realize that children are resilient and able to adapt, it is understandable that you might have fears about how your kids will handle your divorce and the related concerns.

One of the best things that you can do for your children is to commit to cooperating with your ex-spouse when it comes to child-related issues. Cooperative parenting—also called co-parenting—starts with a comprehensive parenting plan. A parenting plan is also required under Illinois law for divorcing parents who wish to share parental responsibilities. Your parenting plan must contain provisions for dividing decision-making authority, each parent’s days with the children, and other important matters. It must also address whether one or both parents will have the right of first refusal for extra parenting time.

Understanding the Right of First Refusal

The phrase “first refusal” might sound negative, but the right of first refusal can actually be a very good thing. The right of first refusal refers to the right of a parent to be offered additional parenting time when the other parent requires child care during the other parent’s scheduled time. The parent who is offered the additional parenting time is not obligated to accept it; instead, he or she has the right to refuse it.  

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Naperville Divorce Lawyer

In creating a divorce agreement, all parental decisions are based upon the parenting plan established through negotiation, mediation, or by a judge. A parenting plan is a document which determines the specifics of parental responsibility. Regardless of its origination, once a divorce decree is approved, its provisions become legally enforceable. 

This legal document protects your parenting rights in the present and in the future, should your ex-spouse choose not to cooperate at any point. Additionally, the plan establishes distinct guidelines to prevent disputes. When in doubt, you are always able to refer to the plan.

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Naperville child custody lawyerThere is little question about the difficulty of parenting after a divorce, separation, or break-up. If you have been given significantly less parenting time than your child’s other parent, maintaining a meaningful relationship with your child can be even more challenging. But, what happens if the other parent convinces the court to restrict or limit your parenting time even further? An experienced family law attorney can help you understand what options you may have and work with you in taking the steps to restore your parental rights.

Grounds for the Restriction of Parenting Time

The governing principle of Illinois family law regarding children and parenting responsibilities is always to serve the child’s best interests. In doing so, the court begins with the presumption that active participation by both parents is best for the child, and, therefore, will allocate parenting time to each parent based on the family’s circumstances. Your parenting time cannot be restricted unless the other parent can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that your behavior or lifestyle seriously endangers your child. These dangers can be to child’s mental, moral, or physical health, as well as to his or her emotional development.

Types of Restrictions

In the most extreme situations, your right to parenting time may be suspended completely, but the court will usually try to avoid taking such measures. Instead, your time with your child may be reduced or limited to certain physical locations. Additionally, the court could determine that you may only exercise your parenting time under supervision by the other parent or a third party. Other restrictions may include keeping certain people away from your child, required abstinence from drugs or alcohol immediately prior to and during your parenting time, and any other limitations the court finds to be appropriate.

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